Lost Hotels of Mackinac: The New Mackinac Hotel

Stereoview, ca. 1870. The original Mackinac Hotel is the fifth building from the corner on the land side of Main Street.

Stereoview, ca. 1870. The original Mackinac Hotel is the fifth building from the corner on the land side of Main Street.

For eighty years the “pocket park” stretching between Main and Market Streets, across from the Arnold Dock, was home to the Mackinac and New Mackinac Hotel.

The hotel started life as the “Lake Superior House,” built sometime before 1854. In 1859 it was sold to P.A. Smith and renamed “The American House.” By the 1860s it was being managed by John and Justine Becher and renamed the “The Mackinac Hotel.”

The building was a two-story, gable-roofed structure, the long side paralleling the street. By the 1870s a two-story covered porch had been constructed across the front, the roof of which was surrounded by a solid balustrade and accessible by a dormer added to the attic story.

The two porches at right center are the original Murray Hotel, and just beyond it, the Mackinac Hotel, ca. 1885

The two porches at right center are the original Murray Hotel, and just beyond it, the Mackinac Hotel, ca. 1885

This view was likely taken shortly after the new hotel opened in 1890.

This view was likely taken shortly after the new hotel opened in 1890.

It is not known how long the Becher’s managed the hotel, but by 1881 it was under the management of Mrs. David Carson. In 1885 Frederick Emerick (b. 1862) acquired the property. Two years later, on February 1, 1887, the hotel burned to the ground. The neighboring Murray Hotel, Highston Store (owned by Emerick’s step father, Siegfried Highston) and the Chambers building were also lost in the blaze.

Emerick rebuilt the hotel, calling it the “New Mackinac,” the name it would bear for the next forty years. It was considerably larger than the original. In the Italianate Style with a bracketed cornice, the building was a full-three stories with a flat roof. It was set back from the street, fronted by a three-decker porch with access to the uncovered top level via the third floor. A narrow three-story wing, housing the dining room on the ground floor, stretched north behind the hotel nearly to Market Street, and was extended all the way to Market Street by 1895. Attached to the back wing was a two-story section that housed the kitchen. At the very rear of the property was the hotel’s ice house, located where the Veterans’ memorial is today.

The New Mackinac Hotel can be seen at the right center of this 1899 view. This provides a good view of back wing, kitchen wing, ice house, and a water tank at the very rear of the building.

The New Mackinac Hotel can be seen at the right center of this 1899 view. This provides a good view of back wing, kitchen wing, ice house, and a water tank at the very rear of the building.

Menu from the New Mackinac, printed on birch bark, 1906.

Menu from the New Mackinac, printed on birch bark, 1906.

The former site of the hotel, as it appeared in about 1965.

The former site of the hotel, as it appeared in about 1965.

The hotel was sold to the Bogan brothers in about 1910. They operated it until it closed in the early years of the Great Depression. In 1938 the derelict structure was purchased by the city and torn down.

John Bogan, owner, ca. 1910.

John Bogan, owner, ca. 1910.

This ca. 1906 postcard shows the relationship of the structure to the Murray Hotel next door. Note how the building was set back from the street.

This ca. 1906 postcard shows the relationship of the structure to the Murray Hotel next door. Note how the building was set back from the street.

This view, from about 1910 shows how the original turned porch columns had been replaced by Doric-style columns.

This view, from about 1910 shows how the original turned porch columns had been replaced by Doric-style columns.

The New Mackinac Hotel staff in about 1906. The man in the center row, third from left, may be owner Fred Emerick. Martha Elliott Fitzgerald is in the center of the back row.

The New Mackinac Hotel staff in about 1906. The man in the center row, third from left, may be owner Fred Emerick. Martha Elliott Fitzgerald is in the center of the back row.

The hotel staff a year or two later. Martha Elliott Fitzgerald is in the middle row, third from left. These two staff images are courtesy of Lisa Brock, granddaughter of Fitzgerald.

The hotel staff around 1908. Martha Elliott Fitzgerald is in the middle row, third from left. These two staff images are courtesy of Lisa Brock, granddaughter of Fitzgerald.

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4 Responses to “Lost Hotels of Mackinac: The New Mackinac Hotel”

  1. Lisa Brock

    Hello – very nice to see the article and the acknowledgement of my grandmother, Martha Elliott, who worked at the New Mackianc Hotel. My Mom and her 6 siblings have all passed on, but they would have really enjoyed seeing their Mother recognized. Wonderful!

    Reply
  2. Greg Perkey

    Love this historic visit. Go to the island every year for the Labor day bridge walk. Great seeing what was then and seeing the same view now

    Reply

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